I’m glad he said this because the only proper way for this campaign to end is with Kasich deciding, out of pure pique, to compete hard in Indiana and try to spoil Cruz’s last chance there even though Kasich needs a brokered convention as much as Cruz does. It’d be a perfect microcosm of the wider party’s impotence and strategic idiocy all year long in failing to stop Trump.
Burn it all down, John. Cleanse it with fire.
“I recognize that the media is all eager to talk about an alliance. There is no alliance,” Mr. Cruz said. “Kasich and I made a determination where to focus our energies, where to focus our assets, where to focus our resources.”…
“John Kasich made the decision, in his own political self-interest, to withdraw from Indiana and to go compete elsewhere,” Mr. Cruz said, while continuing to campaign in the state six days before its primary. “And that was a perfectly reasonable decision.”
Mr. Cruz did not answer questions about whether he was similarly pulling out of Oregon, which votes on May 17, or Oregon, which votes on June 7.
I can’t tell what Cruz meant by his silence about Oregon. If he intends not to compete there, as he promised Team Kasich he wouldn’t, then the “alliance” is still intact. Cruz’s answer here becomes merely one of semantics — we don’t have an “alliance,” we have an … understanding, in which each of us is simply acting according to what’s in our own best electoral interests. If he does intend to compete there, though, then yeah, the alliance is over. In case there was any doubt about that after Fiorina’s comments last night.
Worth noting: A little while after Cruz said what he said here, Kasich advisor John Weaver sent out this mysterious tweet.
I can't stand liars.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) April 28, 2016
Hmmmm. If Cruz is running away from the “alliance” now, it must be because he has reason to think it’s doing him more harm than good. That was always a risk in forming it, that it would be perceived as an artifact of the “rigged system” Trump’s always screeching about even though Trump himself, the alleged outsider, was and is perfectly able to form beneficial strategic alliances with other candidates whenever he likes. (If he hasn’t already approached Kasich with a VP offer in return for his support at the convention, he will — unless, of course, he clinches beforehand.) But what reason does Cruz have to believe the alliance is hurting him? If this NYT report from last night is accurate, there’s evidence to the contrary:
Mr. Cruz’s announcement was prompted by the same countervailing forces that pushed him to strike the nonaggression pact with Mr. Kasich on Sunday: Mr. Cruz’s polling in Indiana showed him down double-digits in Indiana last week, according to two Republicans familiar with the findings. He has edged closer to Mr. Trump in nightly surveys this week, but remains behind.
“If the election were held today, we’d lose but not get crushed,” said a Republican familiar with Mr. Cruz’s polling.
The obvious explanation for him inching up on Trump in Indiana even as Trump was crushing him in the mid-Atlantic states Tuesday was that some Kasich fans in IN had taken their cue from the alliance and switched to Cruz instead. Maybe his polling’s slipped again overnight and he’s decided it’s better to just run hard on his own than be seen as in cahoots with the RINO from Ohio. I don’t think it matters much either way, though. Unless something dramatic happens, it’s hard to imagine how Cruz will turn a double-digit deficit last week into a victory next week, especially when Trump’s had a ton of good buzz in the interim about how he’s on the verge of clinching. Naming Fiorina VP was his Hail Mary (or Hail Carly) play, but Cruz’s own polls don’t see that as a gamechanger. According to the NYT’s sources, the announcement is worth “a couple of points.” I think Cruz is going to try to win as many districts as he can in Indiana and hopefully net 10+ delegates, then go to California, campaign around the clock, and hope for a miracle.
Here he is this afternoon responding to Boehner’s dopey “Lucifer” comments. Exit question: Are we sure Cruz will run all the way to the end if he loses badly in Indiana and the polls in California turn toxic? You could say that he owes it to Fiorina to try, having named her his VP so recently. She’s from California and deserves at least a chance to turn things around for him there on the ground. The counterargument to that, though, is that Fiorina doesn’t want to be humiliated any more than Cruz does. If Trump crosses 50 percent in CA, which he’s on the verge of doing now, and starts creeping up towards 60 percent, the writing will be on the wall. There’s also a chance that one of the states still to come where Cruz is expecting a victory, e.g., Montana, will surprise him by going for Trump instead, further reducing the threshold of delegates Trump will need in California to clinch. And Cruz will inevitably start feeling pressure (not just from the party leaders he disdains) to drop out and give the GOP some extra time to try to unite behind Trump before Cleveland. I think he’ll fight on so long as he’s winning states like Montana that he’s supposed to win, but if one of them goes sideways, there’s a fair chance he drops before California. There’s no point giving Trump the satisfaction of a crushing victory in a contested election on the final day.